About the Free Interpreting Service

About the Free Interpreting Service

The Free Interpreting Service aims to provide equitable access to key services for people with limited or no English language proficiency. TIS National delivers the Free Interpreting Service on behalf of the Australian Government. Using the Free Interpreting Service is easy and convenient. It is quick and simple for service providers to register and they can be connected to a phone interpreter within a few minutes.

Who is eligible?

The following groups can access the Free Interpreting Service to provide services to anyone in Australia who is eligible for Medicare:

  • Medical practitioners: Private medical practitioners are defined as general practitioners, nurse practitioners and approved medical specialists. Private medical practitioners are eligible to access the Free Interpreting Service when delivering Medicare rebateable services in private practice. Practice support staff working with a private medical practitioner registered with TIS National can also access the service using the same client code. (fact sheet)
    For a list of approved Medical Specialists see: Medical Board of Australia - Medical Specialties and Specialty Fields.    
  • Pharmacies: to provide community pharmacy services and for programs delivered under the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement. (fact sheet)
  • Non-government organisations: when providing casework and emergency services, where the organisation does not receive substantial government funding to provide these services. Note: Organisations receiving substantial government funding are not eligible for the Free Interpreting Service. Organisations delivering government funded services should discuss access to interpreters with their government funding body. (fact sheet)
  • Real estate agencies: to discuss any private residential property matter. (fact sheet)
  • Local government authorities: to communicate about most local government services. (fact sheet)
  • Trade unions: to assist workers in access support and advice. (fact sheet)
  • Parliamentarians: for constituency purposes. (fact sheet)

More information about the Free Interpreting Service is available here, and we have a general information fact sheet about the service (fact sheet).

Use the eligibility calculator to find out if you are eligible for the Free Interpreting Service.

How to register for the Free Interpreting Service

Eligible medical practitioners, pharmacies, real estate agencies, local government authorities, trade unions and parliamentarians can register for the Free Interpreting Service by completing the client registration form.

Non-government organisations providing approved casework or emergency services, which are not substantially government funded, should apply for access by completing the Free Interpreting Service for Non-Government Organisations form.

The Australian Government recommends all agencies approved to access the Free Interpreting Service also register for the Automated Telephone Interpreting Service (ATIS).

If you experience difficulties in registering for this service or have any enquiries, please contact TIS National on 1300 575 847 or at TIS.FreeInterpreting@homeaffairs.gov.au.

Services Available

Eligible groups can use the Free Interpreting Service to access interpreting services delivered by TIS National, including:

  • immediate phone interpreting
  • pre-booked phone interpreting
  • pre-booked onsite interpreting (not available to pharmacies or real estate agents)

Immediate phone interpreting is most useful for unplanned interactions. It provides:

  • access to over 3000 interpreters in over 160 different languages
  • interpreting services 24 hours a day 7 days a week
  • connection to an interpreter within a few minutes of calling.

Pre-booked phone interpreting is useful for planned interactions, or if you know you need to request a less common language. When phone interpreting is not suitable, TIS National can arrange an interpreter to arrive onsite for a face-to-face appointment. This may be important when you have a group of people needing the same language interpreter, when you are discussing complex ideas or when you anticipate that the appointment will go for an extended period of time.

Accessing phone interpreting

More information

Accessing on-site interpreting

More information